North County newspaper owner threatens war on competitor
July 23, 2015
The president of News Media Corp., which owns the Paso Robles Press and Atascadero News, left a voicemail for an employee-turned-competitor in North County, chastising him for entering the local news market and threatening to go to war with him. [Paso Robles Daily News]
On June 18, John Tompkins called Scott Brennan, the owner of online publications Paso Robles Daily News and Atascadero Daily News. Both publications posted audio of the voicemail Tompkins left.
“I for some reason have just woke up and finally looked at what you’re doing against us in Paso Robles, now Atascadero,” Tompkins said. “You want to go to war with us, we’ll go to war.”
Tompkins also threatened to go after Brennan personally and to do it in San Luis Obispo County.
“You’ve got my attention now, and so I’ll be coming after you, and personally,” Tompkins said. “I am sorry it came to this. It shouldn’t have to. But you know, frankly, this is a direct assault on us, and so, I look forward to meeting you on the field, and I’ll be probably moving out there, sending our people out there, and they will be so involved that you likely will be overwhelmed.”
Tompkins said in the voicemail it was tolerable that Brennan had operated a phone book business. But, the News Media Corp. president said Brennan was getting into his knickers by becoming a news competitor.
“We’ve tolerated your phone book presence, stuff like that for a while,” Tompkins said. “I like you. You’re a good man. You’ve done a good job in the phone book business, but this is now you’re getting into our knickers.”
Brennan worked for News Media Corp. from 1995 to 2006. He then stated a marketing company, Access Publishing.
In 2012, Brennan founded the Paso Robles Daily News. He launched the Atascadero Daily News two months ago.
Tompkins reportedly founded News Media Corp. in 1975. The company owns more than 70 newspapers across the United States, most of which are published in small cities or towns.
In response to the threat, Brennan said Tompkins is “an out-of-state bully” who is trying to stifle independent news rather than competing with it.
“He called me to threaten our business and my family’s livelihood, and I find that despicable,” Brennan said. “We are not going to be bullied by some corporation from Chicago that thinks they have a monopoly on the news media in North San Luis Obispo County.”
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